The first major date in the countdown to the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011™ is the official announcement of the host cities selected by the competition's Organising Committee (OC). The event will take place at the German Chancellery in Berlin on 30 September, exactly 1,000 days before the tournament gets under way. The Chancellery was chosen as the location for the ceremony as the German Chancellor will herself be taking part.
"We are extremely grateful to the Chancellor for welcoming us," said Theo Zwanziger, the president of the German Football Association (DFB). "It is a great honour to have the opportunity to make what is a very important announcement for the whole country in a building that is filled with history. This symbolic gesture also underlines the Chancellor's enormous interest in women's football. From the very outset, the federal government has spared no effort to ensure that this Women's World Cup is an outstanding success, as was the case with the World Cup in 2006."
The television station ARD has also agreed to broadcast the ceremony live between 15.10 and 16.00 hours. "The interest being shown by the national media is a good indicator of the enthusiasm being generated by the Women's World Cup around the country," added Wolfgang Niersbach, the general secretary of the DFB.
"We are very happy to produce this broadcast in conjunction with Radio Berlin Brandenburg. It is our aim to offer ARD's viewers a quality programme that is both entertaining and enlightening."
The Organising Committee recently conducted a major tour of inspection of the various candidate venues for Germany 2011. The OC delegation, headed by Ulrich Wolter (general coordinator), Winfried Nass (head of the cities and stadiums section), Doris Fitschen (marketing director) and Jens Grittner (media director), completed its tour in Frankfurt.
"We have given very serious consideration to the matter," explained OC president Steffi Jones. "The chance to host matches at the Women's World Cup could have a considerable impact on some regions and help raise their profile. We will be taking all the documents presented by each candidate into consideration as well as the conclusions reached on our visits to the different venues."
"The selection of the host cities represents the first step on the road leading to the Women's World Cup in Germany," continued Wolfgang Niersbach. "Thanks to this tour of inspection we have seen for ourselves that the country boasts a number of magnificent sites. Work has already begun in cities such as Augsburg, Sinsheim and Dresden and in a few short months the fans will be able to see some fantastic stadiums where it will be a pleasure to go and watch games."
Nevertheless, the DFB general secretary is well aware of the issues and restrictions they must deal with. "We are faced with a dilemma. Each venue must stage enough matches to make the venture a profitable one. On the other hand, we would also like to see as many cities as possible come and join the party."
The 11 candidates, Augsburg, Berlin, Bielefeld, Bochum, Dresden, Frankfurt, Leverkusen, Magdeburg, Monchengladbach, Sinsheim and Wolfsburg, will now have to wait three weeks before the OC delivers its verdict. In the meantime they have more documents to complete, namely the framework agreement setting out the rights and obligations of the host cities, and the stadium rental contracts, all of which must be signed and returned to the OC in Frankfurt before 19 September.
The OC members will discuss the various candidatures with FIFA representatives during the week of 23-28 September. "We are spoilt for choice," said general coordinator Ulrich Wolter. "The 11 venues are the epitome of professionalism.
"All the representatives have impressed us with their utter dedication and their abilities. Some have also been very pleasant and some have even moved us. Above all, we have felt a great sense of motivation and on almost every occasion leading local dignitaries have taken the time to come and meet us."
The DFB's executive committee will hold an extraordinary meeting on 29 September for the purpose of designating, with FIFA's approval, the host cities. And the following day, the names of the cities that will host the sixth FIFA Women's World Cup from 26 June to 17 July 2011 will finally be announced.